BOZEMAN, Mont. -

on Monday night, Bozeman city leaders approved ordinance changes that could open up Downtown to new businesses. The changes to the zoning law will create a new definition -- artisan manufacturer. The changes would allow artisan manufacturing to enter a few districts where manufacturing isn't currently allowed.

According to the proposal, zoning dates back to 1934 in the city of Bozeman. When it first began the districts were separated into categories like industrial and residential. Fast forward to today and city leaders tell us those zones have become more intertwined.

"The reason the proposal is worded as broadly as it is, is to provide the opportunity for different people to explore the options and see what works for them," said Chris Saunders, with the city of Bozeman.                                          

Saunders explains the most recent proposed change on the table would redefine manufacturing.

"Manufacturing is essentially taking something and making a finished product out of it, so it could be everything from a shoe store that makes its own shoes, or handbag manufacturing," said Saunders.
 
Under the changes, artisan manufacturing is described as small scale, fully enclosed inside a building, and done primarily with light machinery or hand tools. They would also be limited to operating within 3,500 square feet of space.

"It covers probably about 30 blocks total, stretching east to west along Main Street," said Saunders.

The zoning changes will affect nine different zoning districts including downtown. But all these are already business districts, or mixed use. None of the zones affected are purely residential.

"It should not affect residents. One of the requirements for artisan manufacturing is that it has a very low impact," said Saunders.

Saunders explains these kinds of tweaks to zoning ordinances happen every so often, and are designed to take advantage of the Bozeman entrepreneurial spirit.

"We want to encourage and strengthen our local entrepreneurs," said Saunders.

On Monday, commissioners did make one change to the ordinance- they added a restriction that would require any artisan manufacturers in the Downtown core to have a store front or restaurant for their business if they are located on the first floor of the building on Main Street.

Saunders said the changes should go into effect as early as January first of next year.